What Kind of Drill Bit is Needed for a Chrome Plate?by Jay Leone; Updated April 25, 2017
Chrome plating can be very hard material. Chrome itself is one of the hardest metals available; a very strong drill bit is required to dig through chrome plating. The market offers several different styles of drill bits that are ideal for drilling through harder metals like chrome. Tungsten carbide and diamond-tipped drill bits can quickly and efficiently cut through chrome plating.
The term “chrome” refers to the metallic element chromium. Chrome-plated materials most often feature chrome plating manufactured atop a sturdy base metal like stainless steel. A chrome plating finish offers greater reflectivity than other finishes. Chrome is applied to metals in a thin layer through an electrochemical reaction that systematically deposits the chromium evenly atop the base metal. Chrome plating is very hard and offers high wear resistance in many environments.
Several scales can be used to reference a material’s hardness, including the Moh’s scale, which measures hardness and ranges from 1 to 10. On this scale, higher numbers indicate harder materials. Chromium is one of the hardest metals and offers a hardness value of 8.5 on the Moh’s scale. Tungsten carbide is one of the most durable materials available and offers a 9 hardness value. Diamond is the hardest material available; no other material can scratch a diamond. On the Moh’s scale, diamond offers a value of 10, the highest possible value on the scale.
Tungsten carbide is a synthetic material widely used in the construction of drill bits. Tungsten carbide drill bits can be used to drill through almost any material, including a chrome-plated workpiece. They work very well under high-speed, hot applications. Tungsten carbide drill bits typically cost more than other high-speed steel drill bits, but they are designed to outperform and outlast almost every drill bit on the market. Tungsten carbide in general is a very tough, strong, durable, rigid material that is very impact resistant.
Diamond-tipped drill bits can essentially drill through any material and are capable of drilling through chrome plating. They can easily withstand regular production drilling. Drill bits featuring diamond tips are some of the most expensive bits available. One single diamond-tipped drill bit can cost well over $100 as of July 2011; however, they are designed to outperform almost every other drill bit for any other application. Diamond-tipped drill bits are not designed for sharpening. Attempting to sharpen this type of bit will damage the diamond coating.